Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Spring 2015

Volume 12 Issue 2



Love Poem To Autism, Love Poem To Words

By Aleph Altman-Mills

They say I fixate,

the way I line up

my magazines.

My fingers swoop down the bindings,

Beecher's is so soft it tickles,

and I crumble

into giggles


I'm rolling up words in my mouth,

pulling in spaghetti strand spirals.

It's called echolalia,

the way Emily Dickinson

snaps from my teeth

duh DUH duh DUH words bobbing up and down and I'm flapping Emily Dickinson!

and I'm tapping Emily Dickinson!

and I'm spinning Emily Dickinson!

"Stop staring at the ceiling fan."

"I'm meditating."

I can't look you in the eye right now.

Your face is burbling over.

The trees are greasing the world with light.

Your words are thumping like a carousel.

(Sometimes I can

tack my eyes to theirs,

but I don't know the eye color

of those I've loved for years.)

They always miss nonverbal cues.

I'm rocking,

"My lungs are filled with hand buzzers! I like you! I like you!

I like you! I like you

so much I can't breathe!"

But I'm learning fragments of their rules, learning their ways, learning to freeze.

Aleph Altman-Mills is an autistic writer who loves skirts and swinging. She has been published in Words Dance, Mobius, and The Legendary, among others. She blogs at really-fucking-confused.tumblr.com

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